The late Pete McCarthy was a staple of TV and radio comedy throughout the 80's and 90's but it was with this travel book that he finally found real faThe late Pete McCarthy was a staple of TV and radio comedy throughout the 80's and 90's but it was with this travel book that he finally found real fame. A chronicle of his travels around Ireland in search of.....well he's not really sure himself. A sense of belonging? A search for his Irish roots? Whatever it is, he tells the tale with great good humour and a fine eye for the absurdities of Irish life.
Travelling around in an old blue Volvo with no real plan other than to sample Singapore noodles in as many Irish towns as possible, McCarthy encounters a strange mix of the old Ireland and the new Celtic Tiger Ireland (this was published in 2000, before it all went tits up). He paints a picture of an Ireland adjusting itself to a greater influx of tourists from all over the world. A land of stunning landscapes and unpredictable weather. And a people with their own unique attitude to life and how it should be lived (which boils down to "what's the rush?").
His prose is witty, warm and extremely readable. There is a great deal of affection for the country his parents came from, but he's still the Englishman outsider and it's that distance that makes his observations ring true.
This book really does have some laugh out loud moments, so if you're reading it in public, be prepared for some strange looks. I really enjoyed it....more
What can we say about Alan Partridge that hasn't already been said? True, most of it has been said by Partridge himself, but that's by the by. BestridWhat can we say about Alan Partridge that hasn't already been said? True, most of it has been said by Partridge himself, but that's by the by. Bestriding the nineties and noughties like a broadcasting behemoth, he has carved what can only be called a career through both Radio and Television, bringing his own special magic to both mediums.
In this book of words and pictures he tells his life story, from his birth to his current berth (see what I did there?) at North Norfolk Digital (Norfolk's Best Music Mix). His start at the Our Price instore radio (short-lived), Radio Norwich, his move to the BBC with On The Hour and on to his own chat show, Knowing Me Knowing You (aha!).
Of course there are lows as well as highs. The unfortunate death by shooting of guest Forbes McCallister. The run-ins with BBC Commissioning Editor Tony Hayes and the subsequent Christmas Special fiasco and failure to secure a second series. Then there is his battle with a debilitating Toblerone addiction.
But above all Alan is a fighter and has an unshakeable belief in his own genius. Modesty is not a word in his vocabulary. One thing is certain, there's only one Alan Partridge.
But seriously folks, this is a brilliantly written, extremely funny book. You can almost hear Partridge's voice in your head. Highly recommended....more
Well this was an unexpected pleasure. This charming little book is about Rory McGrath's adventures in birdwatching. No, stop yawning, this is actuallyWell this was an unexpected pleasure. This charming little book is about Rory McGrath's adventures in birdwatching. No, stop yawning, this is actually a very funny, informative and in the end quite touching book. McGrath takes us from his days at Cambridge, where his fascination with a girl in the local bookshop leads him to learn all the Latin names of the birds of Britain to impress her. He falls head over heels for her but it all ends badly and then there's a leap forward of 25 years or so and we catch up with him again with his second wife and their forays into the world of 'twitching'.
McGrath also ropes in his chain-smoking, hard drinking friend, Danny, to try and get him to stop smoking and take up bird-watching instead. Easy to read, wittily written and with loads of really quite informative stuff on British birds, this is well worth a read. There's even a twist at the end which reveals McGrath to be an inveterate romantic.
I'll say from the outset that The Princess Bride is one of my favourite films. But I'd never read the book and I admit that I approached it with someI'll say from the outset that The Princess Bride is one of my favourite films. But I'd never read the book and I admit that I approached it with some trepidation. Would it be as good? Both book and screenplay were, after all, written by the same man.
As it turns out the answer is yes. And no. Let me explain.
The basic story remains the same. Westley, Buttercup, Inigo and Fezzik are all here and they do all the things they do in the film and even say the same things. Large chunks of dialogue were lifted wholesale. This is a good thing. And let's face it, it's a rollicking good tale. Mr Goldman knows how to write.
But there are differences that ultimately have made me knock one star off the rating. The framing story where Goldman tells of his father reading him this book as a child, and of Goldman trying to get his own son interested in the story, which fails, leading to his abridgement of the book, is far more knowing and arch than in the film. No kindly Peter Falk grandfather figure here. The whole abridgement thing gets in the way to be honest and appears tricksy, interrupting the story when he should just tell the tale and let it all flow.
It's a good book. But Goldman showed his skill as a screenwriter when he adapted it for the screen, jettisoning the bits that don't work and streamlining the story without losing the charm of it.
So, it's a bit of a curate's egg. It's a great read, a wonderful tale of adventure, somewhat hamstrung by its framing device. I'm glad I read it, but I think I still prefer the film....more